In the previous 2015-2020 government term, A Roadmap Towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Myanmar (2016-2030) was released in 2016. My country committed to the attainment of UHC by 2030 and the National Health Plan (NHP) (2017- 2021) was developed with the aim to strengthen the country’s health system and support the implementation of UHC. Discussing the UHC scheme is challenging due to the absence of a comprehensive assessment at present. Moreover, the scheme’s progress may have been halted following the coup and amid ongoing conflicts in the country.
I think one of the notable strengths of the UHC initiative was its inclusive approach, involving government, non-government stakeholders, ethnic health organizations (EHOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector. This collaborative effort aimed to address health inequalities by prioritizing primary healthcare investment for the entire population by 2030.
However, significant challenges persisted. Government health expenditure remained low, representing only 16.7% of total health expenditure, indicating a need for increased investment in the health sector. Out-of-pocket payments were widespread, underscoring the limited financial protection for the population. To address these challenges, Myanmar’s public financial management system requires reform and strengthening to ensure efficient fund utilization. Establishing a National Health Insurance system could provide crucial financial protection against catastrophic health expenditures.
Another challenge is the health-related workforce, the health workforce allocation system was centralized and didn’t consider the specific contextual and health needs of different states and regions. Some health workforces were needed like HR for HIS and financial management staff in terms of quantity and capacity within the MoHS. The Inclusive Township Health Plan (iTHP) aimed to provide essential health services throughout the country but encountered operational challenges, such as health staff being overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities.
The previous UHC plan was initiated in the country and worked out somewhat. This was also planned in successive government terms (2021-2025) by 2030 plan but we don’t know how much it continue with the current conflicts in the country this time. Looking ahead, the successful implementation of UHC necessitates continued collaboration among public and non-public stakeholders, leveraging government resources and support from development partners. The legislative support and process will be the priority to achieve it.
Reference: Synthesis Report; Keeping Universal Health Coverage in Myanmar on Track; Hnin Hnin Tha Myint, Nay Nyi Nyi Lwin, Si Thura, Than Tun Sein; December 2020